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Peeved UK shoppers will complain - many online

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A significant proportion of UK customers disgruntled about their service in a shop choose to air their grievances online, new research has found. One in five (20%) said they would air their grievances through review websites, while 14% would use social media websites to do so.

That’s significant because, the Kelkoo study found, British shoppers are the most likely to complain, compared to their European neighbours, making some 166m complaints a year. Almost all of those quizzed (96%) said they would complain if they received poor service in a shop, some 29% ahead of the European average of 67%. Italians were the next most likely to complain, at 95%, followed by Germans at 91%. Some 11,000 consumers across Europe took part in the study, including 3,000 in the UK.

Chris Simpson, Kelkoo chief marketing officer, said: “Britain being crowned the biggest nation of complainers is definitely a positive thing for retailers as it enables them to understand consumers’ needs and subsequently make improvements. This is particularly important in the age of social media, which is an extremely powerful and informative tool for consumers and retailers. Now more than ever retailers need to listen to consumer feedback and act upon it to protect their brand.

The most common cause of UK shoppers’ complaints was poor customer service, cited by 82%. Poor quality products (76%), rude staff (60%) and issues with delivery (52%) were also cited. Over three quarters of British shoppers (76%) felt ‘if you don’t complain, companies can’t improve’. As well as complaining online, some 65% would complain face-to-face, 83% would send an email or write to head office, while 4% would go straight to the media.

Of those who don’t complain, 42% say they don’t have time, 37% say it achieves nothing, while 31% are too embarrassed.

Simpson added: “With the adoption of the new EU Consumer Rights Directive at the end of June this year, shoppers, whether in the UK or across Europe, should expect the best customer service, delivery and returns policies from all retailers. As a multi-national business we would encourage consumers to know their rights no matter where they shop so there is no need to feel embarrassed about complaining.”

Our view: Just because poor customer service happens in a shop doesn't mean it won't be reflected online. This study reveals that not only are British shoppers overwhelmingly likely to complain if they get bad service, many will happily do so in the most public way available - on the internet. Another reason to make sure that your good customer service is as multichannel as the rest of the your business.

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